* Posts by I ain't Spartacus

3853 posts • joined 18 Jun 2009

Scottish independence: Will it really TEAR the HEART from IT firms?

I ain't Spartacus
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Re: It will be business as usual.

I don't think Scotland will continue to use the pound. Without a formal currency union that was never an option, assuming Scotland also wishes to join (or remain in) the EU. They'll have to set up their own currency, as the Euro is also not an option. You can't join the EU without having your own central bank.

As for your comment on the EU, who knows? The logical thing to do is to keep Scotland as a member. A quick bit of negotiation on Schengen, the Euro and a few other queries later - and Scotland is a newly minted member. But I'm pretty sure that the logical thing is the last thing that actually will happen. So I'd imagine Scotland will have to leave and re-join - with some sort of associate member status to cover the mess in the short-term. With Scotland already complying with most things (being part of a member state), there should hopefully be a faster than normal acceession.

Your comment on it being an easy out for the rest of the UK is bizarre though, and irrelevant. If a nation decided to leave tomorrow, there's nothing the EU can do. But that's an unlikely scenario, so not worth worrying about.

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City hidden beneath England's Stonehenge had HUMAN ABATTOIR. And a pub

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Happy

Re: Have a pint on me!

What are you complaining about. Everybody likes long-pig.

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'Duck face' selfie in SPAAAACE: Rosetta's snap with bird comet

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Linux

Get the petition going now!

If the ESA don't put the lander where the beak should go, then I think we should pull out of the EU immediately. Space Ducks have rights too!

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TROUT and EELS in SINISTER PACT to RULE the oceans

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Happy

Re: ETA

Except the "Microsoft file copy dialog team" and "National Rail" cells, who keep pushing back the predicted time.

I was copying some files onto a friends' PC for him the other day. About 5GB. The dialogue popped up saying 20 mins. Fair enough, it's only USB. Then it suddenly changed to "time to copy: 3 days". Erk!

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Re: ETA

Ah yes, the most regular terrorists. Their bombs always go off when predicted.

...I think I'll join you in the cloakroom, and fetch my coat too... Although I must stop to praise El Reg for the Eel IRA.

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It's a pain in the ASCII, so what can be done to make patching easier?

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Re: My personal favourites

For Windows 8, it's 105 patches, before you're allowed to install Windows 8.1 from the Marketplace. Then a few more after that. Unusually it allows you to do them all in one go, without multiple reboots in between. This will inevitably crash the PC during the patching or reboot though, so best to do it in smaller batches.

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Mushroom

Re: As in all else, Orwell is correct.

I like Adobe's approach to patching. Yes we have an auto-updater. What that does is to pop a window up that says can I update. You click yes. Then it downloads an updater. You then have to find that, and click on it. That then downloads the actual software. Then a thing pops up trying to get you to miss a tickbox so it can add some crapware from McAfee. Then it FINALLY installs. Then it launches your browser to prove to you it's installed. Then it installs and runs the McAfee security scan you forgot to untick earlier. Heaven knows what that does next.

I love unobtrusive updates...

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Quit drooling, fanbois - haven't you SEEN what the iPhone 6 costs?

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This is what makes the tablet market interesting

Notice how the tablet market has eased off, but the smartphone market not so much? OK there's more than one reason for that. Many people in the developing world have gone phone, smartphone, and never detoured via PC or laptop. They won't be going into tablet, and continuing the growth. At least not for a long while.

Another reason is upgrade lifetime. You used to be forced to upgrade your PC when it stopped running anything you needed. But my iPad 3 can do almost anything that the iPad Air can do. Although the Air is lighter, and I want one. But discipline is so far holding. The upgrade from an original iPad was worth it for the better screen. I still see mine every-so-often in use by the person I sold it to for £50. So it would still have been working perfectly fine, had I kept it. The same seems to be true in Android land. The first generation of tablets were lacking in screen and power. Since the Android 4 ones, the rate of improvement stalled. So why not stick to what you've got?

Phones do get damaged more often. But otherwise the upgrades don't seem to be going so fast any more. I'd suspect a Samsung Galaxy 2 is not that much worse than a G4. Or are we up to 5 now? However, seeing as the upgrade is "free" after 2 years, why not stay on the same contract and take it?

The funny thing is, Samsung's tablets are almost half the price of its mobiles. And yet the most expensive bit is the screen, and the tablet one is 3 times the size of the phone one. Everything else is roughly the same parts, except the bigger battery. The iPad Air starts at £150 less than the iPhone. Even the one with the massively overpriced mobile chip is cheaper.

When there was no competition it still made some sense. But you can have a really nice Lumia for £250, or a still quite nice one for £120. Or a Motorola G. I wonder if Google will bother with another Nexus phone now?

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Re: @h4m0ny, re Capitalism

On US networks (T-Mo excepted, as they don't do subsidies), non-smartphone customers are subsidising customers who buy iPhones.

I shouldn't have thought so. The data tariffs in the US are very high compared with Europe. And dumbphone customers don't pay for data. Plus the iPhone probably won't be avaiable on the minimum cost data tariff, that comes with a Moto G. It'll be on the top-dollar, bells-and-whistles and your blood and your firstborn tarriff.

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Apple's Watch is basically electric perfume

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Re: Apple Watch ... a solution looking for a problem

Couldn't the same be said for the iPad? Many of us thought so.

No. The iPad did fulfill a need. One people didn't quite know they had. A desktop PC is stuck in one place. A laptop is awkward to use. A tablet is just right, so long as you don't have to type too much. And of course everyone was now using the internet to read online news, or watch online catchup TV. Smart TVs were horrible to use as well. Still are...

I knew the iPad would sell, although I didn't expect it to go quite so mainstream. I had an HP laptop with swivelly screen. So a heavy tablet, and burdened by Vista. Which was a bit slow and lumbering, but perfectly usable with a stylus. Fingers could navigate you to use the basic stuff, but there weren't any 12" capacitative screens around, so it was resistive too.

Nonetheless I loved that tablet. I could sit in a comfy chair and read El Reg. I could write emails with the stylus in that same comfy chair. Faster than any onscreen keyboard or voice activated doohickey I've used up to now.

Other people were fascinated with it too. Whenever people saw me with it, they'd want a go, and be very impressed. But it wasn't nice looking, or all that easy to use, and it was pretty heavy. You had to be pretty strong to use it one handed, without propping it up on something. The iPad was cheaper, and but for having proper file storage and a stylus, better in every other way.

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Re: Yes. Your point was?

DominoT,

There is a difference. The iPhone (even the original that didn't do very much) and the iPad were both nice. The Watch isn't. It's ugly. It's not a very good watch, and it doesn't seem to be pointing the way to a very good wrist computer either. They may as well have not bothered.

I don't think Steve Jobs would have made it, because I don't think the technology is available to make one that's worth it yet. Not that will sell in its millions at high profit anyway, and that's Apple's market.

Coming into a market that's maturing, but still imperfect due to technological limitations is what Apple did with the iPhone, iPod and iPad. They also integrated the things you did with your new iShiny into a suite of apps and services. Love 'em or hate 'em, Apple were bloody good at this. It's what makes me think they can get NFC payment to go mainstream, when no-one else has managed it.

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Intel's SECRET Xeons: tell us what you think Chipzilla's hiding

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Happy

Will they be doing one in strawberry flavour?

...Sorry, did I misunderstand the question again..

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Shades of Mannesmann: Vodafone should buy T-Mobile US

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Why the regulatory problems?

Surely forced/agreed sales are a standard part of US monopolies regulation, as they are in the UK and Europe? You buy a comnpany that gives you a massive monopoly in one sector, as part of getting regulatory approval you agree to sell the bit that's causing the problem. Problem solved, takeover goes through. In the case of T-Mobile / Orange becoming EE, it was radio spectrum they had to sell, this isn't anything out of the ordinary.

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Apple's ONE LESS THING: the iPod Classic disappears

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Re: Perhaps

Obviously there will be some nerd along to explain how much better lossless MP3s sound through their iPod headphones

Lusty,

Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear...

How shall I educate you, let me count the ways:

1. Perhaps you need to go to nerd-school for retraining. For surely it cannot be beyond your imagination that one doesn't have to use Apple headphones... Gasp! The shock! Not that it's that important, all headphones sound crap on the train, but I have a pair of semi-foldable £20 Sony things with closed backs to as not to annoy everyone else. But the other thing you can do with an iPod is plug it into a dock. Which is how I deal with kitchen podcast listening, while cooking.

2. You can't have lossless MP3s. But higher bitrate is better. Or at least better than lowest, and I couldn't be arsed to test all the way up the scale so went for 320-odd. Storage is cheap. That gives me about 25GB of music. About 200 CDs worth. But then there's another 5GB of comedy audiobook and drama CDs.

3. Podcasts are legal. I've never downloaded any music, legally or otherwise. It all comes on shiny plastic discs in order to be able to avoid having to be totally paranoid about backups.

4. Convenience. I like a big wodge of storage, so I can be lazy. I have the choice of all my music. In case I'm in the mood for something different. But I have a wide range of podcasts on the thing. And I like to have all the ones I've not listened to yet. They get deleted when its synched with the PC every week, so I can downoad more. Alistaire Cooke's 'Letter from America'. Thanks BBC, I remember that from years ago, I wonder what it's like. Download all 900-odd episodes you've released? Oh, OK. Turns out it was interesting, as a historical picture of the US from the 50s onwards. Sure I could manage it properly, micromanage each week the couple I was listening to off my PC and onto the iPod, but why? Also some BBC comedy, a few shows I like. Mike Duncan's excellent 'History of Rome' podcast. First episode's a bit dodgy, but it's great after that. And there are hundreds of them. Why muck about playing with storage? Shove it all on, listen through it over a year or two.

I find I like Radio 4's 'More or Less'. OK podcast it. But hang on, there's 4 years of back issues. Oh well, download the lot. Turns out it was interesting. Sure I could think about manging all this, or I could just tell a program on my PC to download everything that looks vaguely interesting, then bung it on a portable device and away we go. That came to about 40GB of podcasts.

Perhaps when the iPod dies I'll see if Neil Young's Pono thingy is any good. I like bright yellow, and I like Toblerone. Or my smartphone battery and storage shennanigans will have improved sufficiently to allow it to take over.

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Apple's SNEAKY plan: COPY ANDROID. Hello iPhone 6, Watch

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Happy

How about floggle-toggle?

Left hand down a bit!

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Apple's big bang: iPhone 6, ANOTHER iPhone 6 Plus and WATCH OUT

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Devil

Re: iBonk surely

Does this mean that when they produce the inevitable sports sensors built into a pair of pants, they won't go for iFronts, but for AppleCheeks?

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I ain't Spartacus
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I've been a solid fan of smaller phones, and thought some of the monsters were getting ridiculous. Even though i'm one of the same people, who realises that other people's technology needs can differ from my own. My favourite smartphone case design was the HTC Desire and Wildfire.

But then I persuaded a friend to get a Galaxy Note 2. A stylus happened to suit him as a professional designer. The combination of hugeness but thinness is absolutely amazing. I've been jealous ever since, particularly whenever I try to look something up online on the iPhone.

However I can see very little justification for spending much over £200 on a phone, given the great stuff you can get for that money. Next time I'm in the position that the company isn't picking up the bill. So I'd probably still take smaller over pricier. But then I'm barely ever parted from my tablet. When this iPad dies, I really want something with a stylus.

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Ferraris, Zondas and ... er, a bike with a 500hp V10 under the saddle

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Re: Owning a Supercar...maybe 'seemed a good idea at the time'?

Totally the wrong kind of mindset for supercar ownership.

Yup. I remember seeing a little piece on TV. Can't remember what program it was, not something earth-shatteringly interesting. But they'd persuaded a chap who'd just bought a McLaren MPC-12-whatever to take their presenter out for a spin in it.

This turned out to be rather more literally than planned. It had snowed, but they went to some track or other, and were whizzing round doing laps, on the rather damp tarmac between plowed snowbanks. She was alternately going "wheeee" and "eek". Then he spun it, and stuffed it into a solid waist high snowbank at about 50. With a rather sad crunching noise.

The presenter was standing there looking like she was going to burst into tears, as they surveyed the sad wreckage of the front wing and bonnet. Commiserating about how terrible it was. And he just laughed and said that was what sportscars were for, and why you raced them on tracks. He was now a couple of mid-sized family cars poorer, but he'd got to play with his new toy for a bit, and such was life.

The ones who terrify me, as the guys who spend years lovingly restoring unique 1930s classics and racing cars. Spending hours, and thousands, sourcing parts, or getting new ones hand-made. Then taking them off to the track and racing them, often in the rain, at full pelt and competitively. And what they'll probably say, as they're interviewed over the smoking wreckage of their pride-and-joy is "that's racing". Then go back and do it all again. Loonies.

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Re: Alan Coren

Stephen Fry came out with it on 'I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue'. No idea if he came up with it, or just recycled it though.

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Hawking: Higgs boson in a BIG particle punisher could DESTROY UNIVERSE

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Coat

Yeah, you want to watch out for the marmalade virus, it's got a 100% mortality rate. If you get it, you're toast.

The other problem with it, is how easily it spreads.

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Alien Ninja Fembot Pirates vs the Jedi SAS Chuck Norris startroopers: RUMBLE

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Zombies couldn't even beat my 7 year-old nephew

Or so I discovered on Thursday night, when I was asked to babysit. He had requested his Uncle iPad I ain't Spartacus, for no ulterior motives whatsoever. Oh no.

He then requested a bedtime story in which he defeated zombies with a chainsaw. Oh dear, oh dear, youth of today, I blame the parents etc. Not wishing to discuss blood-soaked hacked off limbs flying through the air, just before turning the lights out, the conversation moved on to how zombies go to the toilet. A question that still intrigues me now, as if they eat brains then surely they've got to go... Whether dead, alive or undead, what goes up must come down.

Anyway, it turns out a 7 year-old can defeat these moaning shufflers in time for tea and medals. I'm hoping he's a good deal older before I get asked about Aliens or Kate Beckinsale in tight, wet leather.

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Microsoft's SELFIE-TASTIC Nokia 830, 730: Complete with DOG SMILE WHITENER

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Re: They really need to change

The UI is the best bit about it. As a phone. Big writing, for those of us caught on the street without our reading glasses. Big buttons for same. Shame the live tiles thing still doesn't seem to work properly. Although I don't personally want anything other than notifications on those anyway.

Plus the People Hub which is better than anything Google or Apple have managed, but possibly only about as good as the new Blackberry.

The real problem is that it's still not fully polished and consistent when using the less-common bits of the OS. Also the lack of apps, which I understand is a lot better than when I used a Win Phone, but still not as good as iOS or Android.

When it comes to SatNav and using it as a phone, my old Lumia 710 is still much better than my work iPhone 5. As a mobile computer the iPhone is way better.

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Re: Losing the shutter button is a bad idea

Doesn't the volume button now control the shutter?

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Work in the tech industry? The Ukraine WAR is coming to YOU

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Re: Yup. had that in apartheid South Africa

you overlook, that _relative_ poverty, unlike in the West, does not turn the Russians against their government

For a bit. But Putin's whole schtick is that he's going to make the economy strong, and make Russia militarily/diplomatically strong again. Thumbing his nose at the West is good. That shows he's strong. Collapsing the economy shows he's incompetent. In the long term, I don't think he can survive that and remain popular. He can resort to massive repression to keep power, but that's not the same.

At the moment he's playing Bismarck. Nationalist, and not a democrat, but definitely not a dictator, and both democratically elected and popular. It's a role he's been very successful at. The democracy may be extremely ropey, but I think it's pretty clear he's the legitimate leader the people of Russia want.

It's a completely different kettle of fish when you have to start killing your opponents en masse. That's a huge hit to your own self-image, as well as that of your supporters. When you can no longer excuse the odd murdered journalist and arrested opponent as cracking down on hooliganism and protecting stability. Once you have snipers picking off demonstrators then you're turning into Assad. The Yanukovych government couldn't survive doing it. Could Putin's? He's got a lot more ex-KGB people on board. But they're the foreign intelligence types. The story the KGB sells is how they fought the Cold War but Gorbachev stabbed us in the back, and surrendered. But that KGB narrative rather neglects all the Russians that they arrested, tortured and killed. The story they tell themelves, and their public, is of being Cold Warriors. Good Russian spies fighting foreigner threats. It's a lot less fun and heroic being the murdering bastards who arrest and torture fellow Russians...

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Re: Sanctions @ I ain't Spartacus

These are all valid concerns you list. I don't have definitive answers to that, except that there is still and still will be a lot of support for Russia (if not for Putin) among the general Ukrainian population and when the economic hardships will start to bite - will even Western support for the current government keep it from falling?

"I still don't undersand what the plan was."

You are not alone. But I actually think there wasn't a plan.

The Crimea was probably an overreaction but who knows? By doing that, Russia may well have spared its 2 million or so population from the destruction that fell upon Donetsk and Lugansk.

Or started a civil war in Ukraine that otherwise might not have happened. Obviously there was going to be civil strife. Democracy is about the losers, not the winners. It only works when the losers of the election trust the winners to let them have a fair chance next time round - and not to completely destroy their interests in the meantime. And I guess one thing people had learned in Ukraine is that if you don't like the government, you can always try occupying some buildings, and see if you can get it to change.

I've seen other suggestions that Crimea was a kneejerk reaction. A political tantrum almost. I can understand that. It was done quickly. In diplomatic terms it worked. Washington and London already distrusted the Russian government, but with a bit of diplomatic nicety, I'm sure Italy, Germany and France could have been kept onboard. But through stupidity and thuggishness, Russia has suffered massive diplomatic loss of trust and prestige.

Taking the winnings of Crimea and quitting while you're ahead would have made sense. Going on into Eastern Ukraine didn't.

Remember that in Syria Western governments agonised about giving shoulder launched SAMs to the rebels, and didn't arm them in the end. Even though they were getting bombed. Because those might turn up in dangerous hands. And yet Russia was sending full SAM systems to the rebels. Even if MH17 wasn't shot down by the rebels (and it looks pretty certain they did) there's been evidence of several of these things crossing the border at various times. That was almost bound to go wrong. And was massively irresponsible.

There I also don't think that Putin expected Kiev to shell the cities, I think he was confident they will negotiate once Poroshenko got through the elections. I thought so myself actually, or hoped.

I guess he may have over-estimated the Ukrainian government. Given how dysfunctional their politics have been since the collaps of the Soviet Union, I can't imagine why. Particularly as it seems to have been Russian policy to keep them that way.

This one comes down to how much Russia supported the rebellion. Was Putin taken by surprise, and started helping it because he thought he had to? Or was it basically instigated by Russia? If the latter, then Putin and his team are idiots. If the former, then Russia is as tangled up in events as everyone else. And having played the nationalist card, it's then very hard to make the compromises required for peace. As China will find with all its maritime border disputes.

It's too easy to blame Russia for the whole rebellion. But I find it hard to believe it was spontaneous, because of how fast and successful it was at taking territory, and because so many of the leaders turned out to be Russians. Suppsedly retired, intelligence types. And there were reports at the time of people in uniform helping out, who then disappeared again. It's the Crimea play-book all over again.

Finally Angela Merkel said that she'd talked to Putin and he was disconnected from reality. It's probably what moved Germany from the ignore it and keep trading camp to the sanctions side.

In that scenario I can see no peace. And you can't blame the Ukrainian government for trying to quickly chuck the Russian invaders out, before the crisis spirals totally out of control. Even if that does mean shelling their own cities. Not that this is something Putin would stop at. The Russians totally destroyed Grozny. It's endless war on the border, where Russia doesn't want to let Ukraine win, but doesn't want to take over the destroyed territory and spend money to rebuild. Given the Russian government is about to be a lot poorer, due to sanctions.

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Re: Sanctions @Vladimir Plouzhnikov

Russia will not let go of Ukraine for the reasons I outlined and sanctions will not deter it, therefore, the only practical solution to this is for the government in Kiev to stop their "anti-terrorist operation" (which is a disgrace by all accounts) and negotiate with the East and with Russia a settlement. Quite what that might be I don't know, but it will consist of some concession on autonomous powers, some guarantee of retaining influence by the East-Ukrainian "oligarchs" and some undertakings to Russia that Ukraine will not be joining NATO

Vladimir Plouzhnikov,

I disagree with quite a bit of your analysis, but see where you're coming from. However, Russia has lost Ukraine. It was a mess, with a tension between the pro-Russian and more pro-Western populations. By removing Crimea that population balance is now broken. How can there ever be a pro-Russian government again?

Current Russian government policy is a disaster on its own terms. They've gained Crimea, and may gain the Eastern parts of Ukraine, although I don't think they want them. However the cost is enormous. Any possibility of partnership with the EU is now gone. The Russian economy needs lots of foreign investment. That's unlikely to happen for years. That's going to ruin Putin's narrative of being the strong-man who sorted out the economic chaos. The oligarchs taking most of the money will look a lot worse once ordinary people are struggling like the 90s again.

Also, they already had Crimean bases. Ukraine would have agreed another lease, even if it took gas blackmail like before. Which I doubt it would. But with Ukraine as a weak state on the border still. I can't see Russia wanting to have to suppress 30m people by invading. So what's the remnant of Ukraine going to do now? Quietly hate Russia, and build up their army, while trying to get into NATO. Like Georgia I'm sure they won't be allowed more than a partnership agreement. But that will involve training and weapons sales. If Russia absorbs the rebel republics they'll have to worry about that security threat anyway. Whereas NATO would never have allowed Ukraine to join before either, so there'd have been no threat. Or at least not until they'd got a stable political system, and got some of the nastier ex-soviet elements out of the military and intelligence apparatus. If Russia doesn't absorb the rebels, but lets them form mini-states, then Ukraine may eventually re-invade. Autonomy is probably the best option, but have Russia given the rebels so much support that they'll refuse to agree to that? Then it's back to more fighting, Ukraine eventually getting the upper hand, and Russia having to recommit troops.

It's a horrible mess. If Putin had left well enough alone, Ukrainian politics would have carried on as normal, another corrupt government would have come in, and nothing much would probably have changed.

Or was his real fear not NATO. But an oligarch being overthrown, and maybe this time people getting organised to clean-up their politics? That might be too close to comfort for the current Russian system? I don't know, I still don't undersand what the plan was. Or what he's hoping to gain.

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Re: Hurting russia is easy

<blockquote.Well, if there is a sure way of getting Russian tanks rolling over Khreschatik Avenue in Kiev ASAP - that's certainly it.</blockquote>

I agree. It's Ukraine's trump card. Not as powerful as the hand the Russians are holding, and massively hurts Ukraine, but could really screw Putin's plans up.

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Re: Sanctions against the US when?

Nice job of smuggling in the assertion you are trying to prove. You begin by talking about "Russia's invasion of Ukraine", which is logically similar to "the golden mountain" - something that does not exist.

Tom Welsh,

Last year Crimea was part of Ukraine. This year it's mysteriously part of Russia. After denying the intervention of Russian troops in these events, Mr Putin awarded them medals in a televised ceremoney 3 weeks later.

Most of those troops may have started in Russian bases, allowed by treaty. But they weren't allowed by that treaty to surround the parliament building, besiege Ukrainian military bases, or administer an illegal referendum with 2 weeks notice.

That is an invasion and annexation. It may have been the will of the people, although I doubt it. But nonetheless it was still an invasion.

As for Russia having invaded the rest of Ukraine, that's harder to prove. Russia denies it, but they may be handing out medals in a few weeks... We've go reports from Russian media and social networks of troops in Ukraine and secret funerals. Western journalists on the ground saying they've seen Russian troops, as well as interviews with Ukrainians on both sides of the conflict. Statements from rebel commanders that they have holidaying Russian troops helping them. Quite a few of those commanders are ex (or maybe current?) Russian intelligence people. NATO saying it has satellite piccies of Russian armour heading into Ukraine. Oh and the Russian President changing his story of wanting negotiations to saying yesterday that he wanted an independent buffer state now, just after the Ukrainian offensive had mysteriously collapsed - amid fresh reports of massive Russian deployments in Ukraine.

Crimea was an invasion. It's now proved, and admitted. The latest is almost certainly the same. If no conventional troops are there, the rebels are still receiving massive Russian support. That is proved and admitted.

Now what was it you were saying about argument by assertion? Oh yes, using the word Junta for the Ukrainian government. Ah yes, that'll be it. I believe your next post talks about propaganda too. Shame on you.

I shouldn't really argue with you about European politicans being bought, as it's irrelevant. Perhaps a deliberate distraction from the argument? Although you might want to provide some evidence. Particularly as Tony Blair, your example, was earning £200k a year as PM for 10 years, his wife was on £500k-£1m a year for a longer period, and they bought extensive properties in our bonkers housing market. Add in that he left Downing Street and started lecturing at £50-£100k a pop - and you shouldn't really be surprised if the guy's loaded.

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Re: Sanctions against the US when?

Tom Welsh,

Just a minute? That's the Iraqi government that won the election. Not perfect, but also not the one the US wanted. The US left because they couldn't get on with them. And the government that subsequently had closer relations with Iran than with the US. You'd have to be an idiot to think that was the outcome the US wanted.

Plus they pulled their troops out. Because they were asked, but also because the US President made it part of his election strategy. They'd have left advisors, and wanted to, but couldn't come to a deal.

So no, it clearly wasn't a puppet government. It was a crap government, which was too sectarian, hence Obama used the opportunity of the ISIS attack to say they wouldn't give help until Maliki resigned.

But don't let facts get in the way of a good US-bashing. I make no claims that US and UK policy in Iraq has been perfect. Or worked. By whattabboutery that supposed Western special forces support for a government that asked for it is equivalent to an invasion of Ukraine is total bollocks.

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Re: Thanks for the neocon talking points, El Reg! @Destroy All Monsters

Frankly, RT may contain some lies and distortions - but if so, they are a great deal less obvious than those in the Western media.

That's a ridiculous comment. I occasionally look at RT, and it has stuff that I've not seen since the days of the Cold War Soviet propaganda.

Western media isn't perfect. Western politicians don't always tell the truth. But the UK media is free, and pretty mixed. With the Guardian, Torygraph, Indy and Times, as well as the Beeb, Private Eye and various others - there's usually a chance that the truth is out there somewhere. You have to be careful with sources. And sometimes you can't know the truth until a while afterwards, but there's almost always an indication to tell you if something's going on.

Do the papers take an editorial line? Sure. But they're mostly open about it. And you know it when you read the news stories, so you can correct for bias. Do the UK media take government propaganda and run it under orders? No. They may report government information as fact, but then they also cover the scandal if the government have told porkies. They're also mostly good at telling you what's confirmed and by who, so you can make a judgement. You don't get that in RT.

So I know that NATO says Russia has been sending weapons, and now troops into Ukraine. I also know that the Telegraph and Guardian have both had journalists on the ground who claim to have seen Russian military formations inside Ukraine. As well as the Ukrainian government. And Ukraine's rebels have admitted it in interviews too. And journalist from several sources have had interviews with residents and troops on the ground who say it.

Agains that we have Russian denials. But then didn't they just deny invading Crimea. And then admit it three weeks later, and award medals to the troops involved. Oh yes, they did. Oops. Oh and the rebels have suddenly counter-attacked, and done amazingly well. But with no help? Hmm...

Nah. I think I'll take the Western media, with a strong pinch of salt.

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Re: Thanks for the neocon talking points, El Reg!

the borderline ultra-right "government" of Ukraine

Destroy all Monsters,

Who says it's borderline ultra-right? The last government was mostly made up of Yanukvovyc's party. Just without him, as he'd buggered off.

Sure there's some far-right elements in there. And also in the army, given that militias seem to be doing as much of the fighting as the regular army. The new president was only just elected, and as I understand it was a mainstream politician/oligarch before the crisis started. There hasn't been a parliamentary election yet. Given the country's just invaded, I expect that nationalists might do well at that election as well.

But this, mostly ultra-right / nazi comment is straight out of the Putin narrative. It's a simplification in order to justify Russia's actions in Ukraine. I don't think Ukrainian politics are any different to Russia or Eastern European politics in general. There are still mainstream far-right parties and ex-communist ones, although mostly not in government, or getting more than 10% of the vote. Let's take the Russian example - Vladimir Zhirinovsky for example...

Ukrainian politics are fucked up. Which is why the county was a virtual basket-case even before their government collapsed in an almost revolution, and then got invaded by Russia. Followed by what was either a spontaneous, or Russian-backed, insurgency and another Russian invasion of the non-Crimean bit of the country.

Finally, your comment about war being prepared is rather silly. The US isn't planning a war. The US doesn't want a war. NATO could muster sufficient forces to defeat the Russian army, although I suspect there aren't the stocks of ammo and spares for a major war any more. But why would it? Russia has nukes. And what would it do with Russia once it had conquered it? Or is this a cunning plan to militarily defeat Russia just for the hell of it? It's just bizarre.

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Re: Sanctions against the US when?

Totally irrelevant if they're there with Iraqi government permission. The Iraqi government has asked for Western military assistance, so I'd actually be surprised if we didn't have special forces there.

The point about Russia's invasion of Ukraine is that it's an invasion. Aimed (possibly?) at annexing territory. Of course, Russia denies this. But then didn't they just annex Crimea? After denying the wanted to. Oh yes. Funnily enough, they did almost the same thing in Georgia a couple of years ago. Probably best we don't mention Checheya.

Did the US annex Iraq? Nope. Did US forces leave at the government's request? Yup. Are US forces leaving Afghanistan at the government's request? Yup. Did the US annex part of Afghanistan? Nope. Notice a difference?

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Re: Hurting russia is easy

There's a glut of liquid natural gas at the moment. And Europe has mothballed quite a few coal plants to meet green targets. As well as Germany turning off its nuclear plants. And the US starting to export shale gas. Europe can survive without Russian gas, it would hurt but it can be done.

Russia can't sell that gas to anyone else, as it hasn't got the LNG infrastructure or pipelines to anywhere else yet. That's a huge chunk of its exports and government revenue at risk. It would cause a massive depression in their economy, which is already in recession.

Were I the Ukraine government I'd think about mining the gas pipeline, Russia stopped delivering to them 2 months ago anyway. As well as threaten to blow up the Nordstream pipeline, which carries most of the rest. That would certainly piss off the EU, but they're not helping all that much, and it would certainly make Putin think.

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Re: Yup. had that in apartheid South Africa

Various people have been thinking about sanctions, for years. As you say, they had limited effect on South Africa. And even less on Iraq, where Saddam didn't care about the effects on the population.

But things have changed. The world economy is more tightly knit. Russia is more integrated with that economy. Russia's biggest single market is the EU.

Also, Russia is reliant on its oil and gas industry. That's where most of its government revenues come from. I believe the standard calculation is that if the oil price (gas prices are linked to oil prices) drops below $100-$110 a barrel, then the Russian government goes into deficit. No problem, they've got huge reserves. But what if Europe stops buying their gas? Or Ukraine blows up the pipeline? Then government revenues collapse. Then it's either massive cuts, or massive tax rises. Calculated to make a government popular...

Now add in the fact that Russia was already going into recession before the sanctions started. And that over the last 2 years it's lost a net $150 billlion in capital flight. That's accelerated since too.

Now add in the fact that the Russian oil and gas industry needs massive investment and modernisation. Who's going to lend them the money? Who's going to sell them the kit. The global oil and gas companies are all Western.

Russia can sell its gas to China. Once it's built a pipeline. Which will take 5 years. China agreed a price that was about a third less than what Europe is currently paying, and half what they now charge Ukraine.

The other thing that has changed is the importance of global finance. I don't just mean speculation, but loans, insurance, transfers. I've seen two rujmours from the EU negotiations on the next round of sanctions. One that Cameron suggested kicking Russia off the SWIFT payment network. Done to Iran. Then Russian companies would struggle to pay their bills, and their banks would be buggered. This can be worked round, but would waste time and money. The second was that no EU firm/bank would be able to give more than 30 days credit to a Russian one. So Russian companies would struggle to get trade financing to buy. And finance for long-term investment, which mostly comes from Western sources. That way our companies would still be able to trade with them, and the disadvantages would be equal for any company they buy from, Western or otherwise.

Of course Russia could then retaliate against Western companies. I guess they'd do that where they could get as good alternatives elsewhere.

One query with the article. Saying sanctions have had little effect so far. According to the Telegraph, no Russian company has managed to issue a bond on the Russian bond market (or the European one) since the end of June! Apparently Russia's corporate finance needs are nearly $200bn this year, just to refinance maturing debt. And according to the German government exports to Russia in July were down 60% on last year.

Finally the most developed financial markets are Europe and the US. But moving to far Eastern markets doesn't help much. The biggest banks in Hong Kong, Japan and Singapore also operate in the US and EU. So have to comply with their laws. Is it worth Japanese and Singaporean banks cutting off their trade with the West, just to win some trade with Russia? Maybe some China-only banks might? But I doubt that gives Russia the cash it needs. And the terms would be awful.

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Re: Sanctions

Sanctions can work. Iran is negotiating over its nuclear program, because it wants access to Western finance and capital markets - and access to parts for its oil industry.

I think, in general, sanctions can work over countries that aren't total dictatorships. Russia isn't a true democracy, given there's little media freedom, most media is government controlled, people are barred from elections on political grounds, the courts are only partially independent etc. But there is limited freedom and democracy isn't just a pretence. Public opinion does matter, and demonstrators aren't shot on sight. Russia is quite similar to Iran in some respects, there is a genuine democratic system, it's just very limited.

If Russia's economy collapses, then Putin's whole narrative about how he restricted the peoples' freedom in exchange for stability and economic improvement might fall apart. Perhaps he can fall back on nationalism, and how it's OK to suffer for being powerful. Maybe that'll work, maybe it won't. Russians tend to be nationalist/patriotic (delete as you see fit), but does Putin want to take that risk for a bit of Ukraine with some outdated industry? Or the whole of Ukraine and a subject population of 30m odd, to buy off or crush militarily?

The oil technology and capital that Russia needs is mostly going to come from Europe and the US. While Russia can source other products from elsewhere, and get round sanctions, they'll struggle with those two. As has Iran. Remember that even the Russian oligarchs don't trust the Russian legal system, so they keep their cash in the West. Why would anyone else invest in Russia when its own leaders don't? Which is why so much of their borrowing is done in Westerm markets, mainly London, under more trustworthy legal systems. There are plenty of countries with money to lend, but they also like not to have it stolen, which is why they often do their investing via London or New York.

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NATO nations 'will respond to a Cyber attack on one as though it were on all'

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Re: Wake me when they actually do something

Ledswinger,

I don't believe a cyber-attack could turn off our whole infrastructure. But I'm pretty sure it's possible to quite a lot of damage, with some forward planning. Mostly it's going to be annoyances. But if you can disrupt the economy for a week, that could be the difference between low growth for the year and recession. It's not the end of the world, but costing an opponents economy a few tens of billions for the outlay of a few tens of millions is something to be concerned about.

DDoS is inconvenient but seems to be posible (sometimes easy) to work around. Although some of them seem to have got bigger recently, but I'd imagine that'll just shut a few websites, then slow things down a bit for everyone. No big deal.

SCADA kit worries me. Security doesn't even seem to have been an issue with the design, and I'm not sure it's that high a priority now. it'd be interesting to know how much of this stuff is actually hooked up to the net. Hopefully not much. Damaging offline stuff with a long-term infection via the update process (as with Stuxnet), would seem to be less of an immediate threat. But if you can get live access to various national systems, there is a possibility you could do some serious damage.

If you can control pumping systems, you can cause pressure spikes, and break pipelines in multiple places. Water, oil, and sewage have momentum. By playing around with pumps and control valves, you should be able to get serious water-hammer (I assume with sewage it's called poo-hammer?). Do that repeatedly and you start breaking pipe joints. Hopefully these control systems are properly secured. I do wonder though.

Are the 999 systems all safe from attack? Even if you can't get at the emergency systems, I'm sure you could have some fun buggering up less important government big IT. These have so many people that access them, that I'm sure a determined hacker can get in and break things.

You can also do some major disruption to the economy by attacking large companies IT. Even more if you're willing to spend the time and effort on attacking small company IT. They won't have the resources to fix things, and many are probably running without backups. Bankrupt a few thousand smaller companies, and watch the recession happen.

Therefore the kind of people that we pay to worry on our behalf should be worrying about cyber-attacks, and how to deal with them.

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Re: Wake me when they actually do something

Why does my thought process scare you? Just because of "big bad scary nuclear", doesn't mean that all nuclear things are equally dangerous. Reactors make more of a mess than spilled uranium enriched to 5% then 20% purity.

If you're talking about my comments on Iran's options - I don't think I made any justifications. I personally believe that the world is a worse place with more nuclear powers. Since we can't disinvent the damned things, we're stuck with having some nuclear powers though. But if Iran gets them, then Saudi and Turkey may do the same. The Middle East is already in a mess as it is.

In this situation I believe Iran hasn't retaliated because the leadership doesn't see any advantage in doing so. There's no diplomatic or economic sanctions they can use. So that leaves military ones. The biggest threat they can make is to Saudi and Kuwaiti oil supplies. Threatening to bring down the Western economies is likely to lead to a limited war. Which they'd probably lose. They did in the 80s. That's international politics as I understand it. I've made few assertions about morality.

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Re: Wake me when they actually do something

Fukushima was serveral nuclear reactors that got hit by the world's biggest recorded earthquake and then a fucking huge tsunami. Being old designs, and working when hit, they still needed active cooling for at least a month in order to shut down safely. The contamination has mostly come from venting of coolant (as steam and water), in order to keep the reactors from melting down. Hence the contamination.

Iran will be centrifuging sub-critical amounts, unless they wanted fission inside their factory. So the risk is of direct contamination from uranium. Not from uranium fission products. Uranium's an alpha emitter, rather than beta or gamma radiation. From which your skin will mostly protect you, and a plastic suit and mask will do the rest. Therefore clean-up is easy.

As I understand it, the software wasn't even supposed to be breaking the centrifuges. Just mis-aligning them slightly so they required massive extra maintenance.

As to how Iran should respond? I did answer it. What do Iran want? Who knows? But they appear to desperately want sanctions to stop, so they can rebuild their economy. Therefore their response should be to grin and bear it. Dismantle their nuclear weapons program, and get sanctions lifted.

Alternatively they could start funding terrorists to attack the US and EU, and continue to devlop nukes. Then the US would probably agree with Israel that there was no better option, and bomb their nuclear plants. Or they could threaten to close the Persian Gulf, and stop Saudi oil exports. The last time they tried that NATO put a small fleet in, escorted the tankers, and kept the exports going. They could up the ante, and start using their air-force and surface-to-surface missiles to destroy the ships. Then the US, UK, France and gulf allies would probably bomb their air-force and missile sites. As well as blockade their oil exports.

They're not good options. I don't think Iran wants to escalate.

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Re: 'the Iranian nuclear weapons programme'

Pull the other one, it has got bells on it.

They may not have the ultimate intention of building a bomb, it's almost impossible to prove intentions, particularly in a dictatorship. Which is why intelligence deals with capabilities. They have a rocket program (space or ICBM). They built a secret uranium enrichment site, hardened against military attack, and failed to declare it to the IAEA as they are supposed to by a treay they signed (NNPT). They have been working on precision triggering of explosives, also required for nukes - and I'm not even sure if that has a civilian use. That's also from the IAEA reports. They've also refused to dismantle their uranium enrichment program when offered treaty-guaranteed cheaper nuclear fuel deals from Russia (who're building their reactor), paid for by the US.

So even if they don't have a nuclear weapons program (which they patently obviously do), they've been doing everything to make people think that they have a nuclear weapons program.

There's a theory that the Iranian leadership want the ability to build a bomb, without actually doing it. Then they can have the threat of it, without the consequences, or use it as a bargaining chip for something they want. But if true, that policy is indistinguishable from planning to build a bomb, so the response ends up being the same.

Negotiation is hard when you cheat, and then get caught. It'll be incredibly tough to get a solution to the Ukraine crisis, because Putin has blatantly, and often contemptuously, lied at every stage of the conflict. So no one is going to trust him - which makes it hard to come to any deal.

Iran has a similar problem. No-one believes its denials about its nuclear program because it's broken the terms of its treaty saying it wouldn't develop nuclear weapons, and then says it only broke the treaty in order to develop a civilian nuclear program in secret. And none of the secret stuff was military, honest guv.

Lying poisons diplomacy. If Blair and Bush had said we're going to war with Iraq for reasons of policy there'd have been much fewer problems. There were plenty of justifications to use, but none that would get a UN resolution. Going the chemical weapons route, when there was little intelligence about the state of the program was a huge risk. Everyone knew the UN had only destroyed about 80% of Iraq's stocks in the 90s, and they still had the scientists and knowledge to make more. But basing so much on such limited intelligence, and being wrong, has done massive damage to the credibility of the US and UK. And has buggered-up international diplomacy for at least the 2 decades.

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Depends on your objectives. Escalation is a choice. And not always the best one. As are the means of escalation. Warfare can be cyber or economic, as well as military. You may decide that you'd prefer to put up with this level of damage, rather than risk things getting worse.

I guess it depends on if you count sanctions as economic warfare of diplomacy though? I guess this is where your von Clausewitz comes in. War is simply another tool of diplomacy. Although I guess that would mean that nuking someone would also count as diplomacy? Hmmm.

As someone has said earlier, it's much harder to prove where cyber-attacks are coming from. Particularly if you do most of the work via a bot-net. Although it's usually obvious. Unless a country has two enemies, both intent on destabilising them with massive cyber-attacks. Europe is rather peaceful at the moment, and the only power that's aggressively expansionist is Russia - so that makes things a little easier to work out.

But then diplomacy is also about how things look. So bombing someone for a cyber attack you can't prove they did, is going to look rather bad. Particularly as you're unlikely to get UN approval. It's easy to sow some doubt, and spout lots of propaganda. See Russia over Ukraine for an example, where there's far more concrete means of gathering evidence. Also the fuck-up over the Iraq war still haunts the diplomatic landscape.

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Re: Wake me when they actually do something

Stuxnet did the most serious damage it could do. It wrecked thousands of extremely expensive centrifuges. I don't know what the risk was of it also contaminating the 2 enrichment sites, but that ought to be unlikely, with proper design, and pretty easy to deal with.

This is where relative power comes in. For example, Russia can happily bash Ukraine, because there's not a great deal Ukraine can do about it. Anything they do to escalate, Russia can trump. They're biggest card is to cut-off/destroy the gas pipeline between Russia and its European customers. But Ukraine is desperately trying to get support from the EU and NATO, so cutting their fuel supply might not help.

That's not quite true with the US and Iran, as there are things the US can't politically do. But you have to consider what governments want. Iran wants sanctions removed, as they're buggering-up the economy, and making them very unpopular with the middle classes. - who've already had one go at a limited revolution. So how do they retaliate over Stuxnet when they want access to EU and US financing and industry to update their oil industry?

Thirdly there's proportionality. Stuxnet was better than the alternatives. Iran chose to break the Nuclear Non-Proliferation treaty it signed up to. Them getting nukes is not an optimum solution. Israel trying to bomb Iran's nuclear program could be as bad, though Israel might not see it that way. And as the US would get large chunks of the blame if Israel did it, I think there was a lot of argument in Washington that the US could do a much better job (with fewer casualties and more damage), so better to get hung for a sheep as a lamb, and do it themselves.

Stuxnet appears to have been a very good idea (so far). It's killed no-one, and delayed things enough for diplomacy to work. It was also a limited attack, with limited objectives. Is it any worse than massive sanctions on the Iranian oil and finance industries? It's cost the Iranian government much less.

But in the end, international relations is much less about right-and-wrong, and much more about can-and-can't (and will-and-won't). NATO has the power to retaliate, and deal with the consequences of escalation. So NATO needs to decide whether it has the will to do so. Iran has the capability to retaliate, and the will to deal with the consequences, but limited ability to deal with escalation.

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Re: Wake me when they actually do something

Bucky 2,

I think you're failing (along with others) to differentiate between state-sponsored espionage and cyber-warfare. A bit of hacking and eavesdropping is the normal course of daily business. It's why all powers have intelligence and counter-intelligence agencies. Normally all that happens is some ambassadors get interviews without coffee, or in the worst cases, expelled.

Cyber-warfare means attacks on government networks, banking and infrastructure. So far this has mostly been deniable, small-scale and limited duration. But an attack lasting for weeks, that damages sewerage, water and power infrastructure might call for a more robust response. It might be sanctions or cyber-retaliation. But there's nothing particularly disproportionate in saying, "you broke my power station with your computers, so I'm going to lob a cruise missile at one of yours".

More likely would be economic damage. So sanctions would seem the better tool. But if Russia (we all know who they're talking about) believes it can get away with this stuff consequence-free, they're much more likely to try it.

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Devil

Re: Cardiff?

Well, it's close enough for targetting purposes. So long as you use a large enough nuke...

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Equally, when the Germans hack John Kerry...

Seriously though, no. Spying is different to warfare.

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I'd imagine this is about the most worried NATO nations (the Baltic states probably), trying to secure help from the likes of NSA and GCHQ, should another attack happen. Especially if it lasts for weeks, rather than days.

I also wonder if it's about NATO offensive cyber-capabilities. I've read a few things about us and the Americans putting money into this. I'm sure we're not the only ones. So NATO might well respond to a cyber attack with one of its own. As well as trying to work out joint defensive measures.

Just think of the horror if we cut off Facebook and Twitter access to our enemy's ruling elite? Plus their wives and children. I'm sure they'd surrender right-sharpish-double-quick after the ferocious combined nagging that would ensue. Even worse, we could try to disrupt their access to porn! The horror! The horror! Although surely that would be a heinous breach of the geneva conventions on war crimes.

It would be a bit like the Lysistrata, but with fewer jokes about Spartan cipher rods, and more about dongles...

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CNN 'tech analyst' on NAKED CELEBS: WHO IS this mystery '4chan' PERSON?

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True with TV. But I was actually thinking journalists, epsecially the print ones. Who write copy on computers and tablets, have smartphones, are always pirating copy off Facebook and Twitter, plus whatever photos or blogs they can grab. And all busily Googling and Wiki-ing as well. You'd hope that a little bit of knowledge would rub off in this process...

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Happy

The chap's not heard of 4chan. Does that make him ignorant, or fortunate?

It is very sad when the mainstream media talk about most specialist subjects. But they are particularly pants on IT, which is rubbish considering how much they depend on DTP, t'internet, Google, Twit&Face, mobile phones and laptops.

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Happy

Re: Not forgetting regional variations

So in the grim North it changes from 'password' to 'pa££word'

MonsieurInconnu,

It's all your fault! Now the voices in my head sound like Sean Bean shouting, "passsword ye buggers!"

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Jimbo tells Wikipedians: You CAN'T vote to disable 'key software features'

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Re: salaried employees

I think you've somewhat missed the point The salaried engineers create the software, the unpaid user community are expected to use it. Question is, who runs the railroad?

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NASA clears zero-G 3D printer for mission to SPAAAAACE

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Re: 3D printing of plastic is not going to save anyone

A plastic part that keeps you alive for a couple of days is worth 100 metal parts, rated for the full mission duration, that you don't have.

Completely different tolerances, but we prototyped a float-valve on a 3-D printer. It worked for a whole day before falling apart. Which was perfect as a proof of concept, before going on to the more expensive prototyping stages.

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